Private school network to pay $215,000 in discrimination suit

Nobel Learning Communities Inc., which operates a network of more than 180 private schools in 15 states nationwide, reached a settlement with the Justice Department after being investigated for discriminating against children with disabilities.

Under the terms of the settlement, Nobel Learning Communities must pay $215,000 and adopt, implement and publicize a nondiscriminatory policy at all of its preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools.

The case was brought on behalf of 13 children at various schools nationwide, including one in Seattle. The children in the case had disabilities ranging from autism to Down Syndrome to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

According to the settlement, the Justice Department had accused the company, from at least 2005, of instituting a policy and engaging in a pattern of “excluding, disenrolling or discrimination” against children with disabilities.

“It is illegal under the (Americans with Disabilities Act) to discriminate against children with disabilities. Just like public schools, private schools must make reasonable modifications of policies to permit children with disabilities to participate fully in the programs they offer,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez in a Justice Department news release from Jan. 14. “This agreement ensures that children will not be denied quality preschool and other educational opportunities based upon their disabilities.”